Ravens’ Todd Monken Plans Demanding Role for Derrick Henry

Derrick Henry

Getty The Baltimore Ravens have massive expectations for RB Derrick Henry.

He’s 30 and playing arguably the most physically demanding position in the NFL, but Baltimore Ravens’ offensive coordinator Todd Monken has a demanding plan for running back Derrick Henry.

Monken expects Henry to still handle a heavy workload in his ninth season. Speaking at OTAs, Monken revealed he thinks “If [Henry] carries it 300 times, we’re having a helluva year. It means we’re running it a lot. It means we’re up in games. We want him to finish, [and] we want him to be the closer,” per Ryan Mink of Ravens.com.

Taken in isolation, those comments aren’t too surprising. It’s reasonable for the Ravens to expect Henry to be a workhorse. After all, that’s what he was during an eight-year career with the Tennessee Titans, when Henry went over the 300-carry mark three times.

Add some context, though, and Monken’s expectation starts to look a little more challenging.

Derrick Henry Must Prove He’s Still a Workhorse

Henry has already had to answer back to critics who believe he can no longer carry the load of a true workhorse. Although he started all 17 games last season, his workload was reduced quite a bit. To the tune of 280 carries, 69 fewer than the previous season.

The four-time Pro Bowler still managed to amass 1,167 yards on the ground. They included this 63-yarder against the Ravens at London’s Tottenham Stadium in Week 6.

His combination of raw power and underrated breakaway speed has punished multiple teams, including the Ravens. It’s a potent mix, but Henry has looked a long way off the peak he reached during his 2,027-yard season in 2020.

Henry’s yards after contact per rushing attempt were down from 2.3 to 2.1 last season, according to Pro Football Reference. He also broke twelve fewer tackles (23) than in the previous campaign.

Despite a slight decline in his numbers, Henry remains one of the league’s elite players at his position. It’s little wonder Monken has big plans for the former All-Pro.

Particularly after the play-caller’s off day in last season’s AFC Championship Game.

Todd Monken Planning to Make Amends

Monken is probably motivated to keep running Henry into the ground to make amends for last season. Specifically, for his curiously pass-heavy approach against the Kansas City Chiefs in the conference title game.

The Ravens ran the ball a mere 16 times during a 17-10 defeat at M&T Bank Stadium. Eight of those rushes were courtesy of quarterback Lamar Jackson.

Monken replacing Greg Roman last offseason was supposed to signal more emphasis on Jackson throwing the ball. It looked like Monken designed a gameplan for the AFC Championship to double down on project make Jackson better.

Whatever his motivation, Monken admitted, “we gotta run the ball better, we gotta attack ’em the way we, you know, plan to attack them. And I got to do a better job,” per ESPN’s Jamison Hensley.

Running the ball better and attacking better will be easier with Henry in the lineup. Yet, if he’s carrying the ball 300-plus times, the Ravens will look a lot like they did under Roman.

It’ll be hard for Jackson to refine his game as a passer if he’s handing off more than he’s throwing. Leaning on the run has served the Ravens well, they still led the league in rushing last season, but the franchise will only make the move up to the Super Bowl stage with Jackson leading the way.

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